NEW ORLEANS, LA — Mystic Krewe of Nyx, the world’s largest carnival organization, will recognize more than 100 of its charter members at an appreciation brunch on August 19. The charter members of Nyx will be honored for taking a historic leap of faith in 2011.
Stories of the first year, laughter, tales of sisterhood, and a few surprises is on the agenda for the ladies attending the brunch this Sunday.
“Our charter members took a chance on us when we only had a dream,” said Julie Lea, the Krewe Captain and Founder. “Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We thank them for their faith in us and for helping to build Nyx into one of the premier carnival Krewes in New Orleans’ 300-year history.”
Each of the charter members will be treated to brunch and share memories of their first year with a Krewe that was trying to establish itself among Mardi Gras giants.
“We’ve come such a long way,” Lea said. “We owe a lot to our charter members and they deserve this special day. We can’t wait.”
Mystic Krewe of Nyx was established in 2011 with 534 female members and is now made up of more than 3,300 members. Nyx will parade on the traditional Uptown route on February 27, 2019.
• Mystic Krewe of Nyx Charter Member Appreciation Brunch, Sunday, August 19, 2018.
For years, I used to say that I had no desire to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans UNLESS I could ride on a float and throw beads. I never dreamed that one day I’d be able to do just that. I always assumed the Krewes were ancient, exclusive, and peopled by folks whose families had been in those Krewes for generations.
Then, one day, I saw a Facebook post by an old friend, Suzanne Ferguson, and it included photos of her and her daughter Katie wearing fun costumes, having a ball at Mardi Gras in New Orleans! I asked her if she was in a Krewe, and she said yes! I said, “I want to do that!” Turns out, the Krewe was the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, and my friend was a charter member.
She helped me, guiding me through the membership process, and before I knew it, I was a Nyx Sister! I had no idea of what I was in for.
My Mardi Gras in New Orleans Experience as a Nyx Sister
From the start, I was warmly welcomed into the Sisterhood of Nyx. My first ride was in February of 2017, so I started getting ready months ahead of time. We got together and decorated purses (I am NOT an artistic person, so this was a challenge for me!), and I actually managed to come up with 20 purses that I’d not be ashamed to toss to strangers in a crowd. I had paid my dues, ordered my throw package, and I was ready to roll!
I had no idea what the parade would be like. I figured that if it wasn’t fun, I’d just do it once and bail out. But oh, my, what fun I had! Honestly, the whole thing was a blur, from the preparade party to the end of the parade.
I remember float loading, being amazed by how organized things were (my stuff was on the right place, in my spot, with my name on it!), then I remember the huge party, with all of those laughing, friendly, fun-loving woman in bright costumes, then I remember going to the float to roll in the parade.
The weather was perfect that year for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and the crowds were thick and excited. The parade went by so quickly that I was shocked when we stopped! Time does indeed fly when you’re having fun, and I had a blast.
So, of course, I signed up again for the 2018 season. However, something unexpected happened to me in July of 2017 – I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and was told I’d have to have chemo, surgery, and radiation, a course of treatment that would last over a year. Sigh. In spite of all that, my overwhelming desire was to be sure that I felt good enough to ride with my Nyx Sisters. It was a reward I felt I deserved! I worked hard to make that happen.
So I did what I had to do, and specifically made sure to schedule my radiation treatments to NOT start until after my Mardi Gras parade ride. My doctors were very supportive, and I was therefore able to ride in the 2018 parade.
Suzanne and I went on the Pray for Favor ride, and had a great time. I even got up at lunch and danced. No more sitting on the sidelines for me!
The Sisterhood of Strength
The next day, at the preparade party, I was moved to tears when I was presented with a gorgeous purse, made by my sister Shari Tallulah Brown, in support of my breast cancer journey. These are the kind of women who make up this Krewe. Warm, giving, welcoming, fun-loving. Full of life. Just what I needed after a tough 6 months. I’d never met Shari, but she knew about me. She now has an everlasting friend in me. I will always have her back.
Marie Laveau didn’t exactly take us or our prayers seriously, because the weather took a turn for the worse late In the afternoon. We soldiered on. Even though it was cold and wet (and windy!), the spirits of the Nyx Sisters never flagged. I was personally glad to be experiencing ANYTHING, so glad to be there. The crowds inspired me, because in spite of the inclement weather, they were lively and happy. They weren’t going to let some bad weather get them down. The Krewe of Nyx and its fans fed of one another’s excitement and enthusiasm, and we rocked that night!
My motto is now Carpe Diem. I’m seizing every moment, every experience, every chance to live life to the fullest. The Nyx experience is such a big part of that.
Don’t let life get you down. Embrace it. Take the opportunities that come your way. You never know what’s around the corner.
I seize every moment. I embrace my sisters. Thank you, Nyx, for standing with me.
Debra Crosby is a three year Krewe of Nyx member………..and a cancer survivor!
Growing up outside of Chicago, the idea of Mardi Gras was something I never really thought about. After all, February in Chicago is WAY too flipping cold for parades! A classmate in elementary school once visited New Orleans during the season and brought back some beads. New Orleans was a far-off city “way down yonder” that I did not think I would ever visit, much less live in.
Long story short, my father was ultimately transferred to Mobile when I was in high school, I went to college there and made friends who were from the New Orleans area, I moved here in 2003 to be closer to them and for more opportunities, I met my husband within a few months, and 15 years later the rest is history and I have adopted New Orleans as a second hometown.
I’ll admit that, as my now-husband was a Mardi Gras fanatic and went to every single Metairie parade plus Endymion, I got burned out pretty quickly. Especially after a few cold, wet parades. Why should I stand out on a curb in all kinds of weather to catch cheap plastic junk that I did not need? Why should I deal with traffic jams due to closures of major streets? Why should I eat cold fried chicken that had been sitting out since 7:00 a.m.? Not my gig. Mardi Gras was a perfect day off to take care of chores around the house without the boyfriend getting in the way.
Fast forward to about three years ago. I went to watch the Nyx parade for the first time, mostly because my boss’ wife was riding. It was pink. It was glitzy. It was full-on girl power. I loved it. I couldn’t have more respect for how, within just a few years, the all-female krewe became the largest in the world. I started thinking about riding to see what it was like, and when an acquaintance who rides in Nyx shared on Facebook that the waiting list was open, I put my name in. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. And eventually shrugged the whole thing off.
It had started out as a typical Monday when I was checking my e-mail and saw a message from “Nyx Captain” with the subject line, “Congratulations! You have been invited to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx!” My husband was floored when he received my text message reading, “HOLY SHIT I FINALLY GOT INVITED TO JOIN NYX OMG!!!” As much as I HAD shrugged it off, from the moment I got that e-mail my heart was set on it! We went out to dinner to celebrate, I filled out my paperwork and dropped it right in the mail with a check for my deposit, and I made my first Nyx purse after acquiring supplies at three separate stores. I stalked my e-mail even in the middle of the night until I received the confirmation that my application had been processed and I had the credentials to log into the “Members Only” section of the web site, and I was excited to see there were already several events on the calendar.
So now here this Chicago/New Orleans girl is, with a large box containing at least a dozen purses ready to be decorated, a black ball gown (found on clearance at Dillard’s among the leftover prom dresses on a shopping expedition with my grandmother), manpower ready to load my throws onto my float, and headed to Houston this weekend to meet the Captain and many other Nyx members. Super psyched, of course!
As much as Mardi Gras may never have been in my heart and soul like it is for people born and raised here who enjoyed it as children, and I could even have done without it for a long time, I think I may have finally come to love it. At least, now that I seem to have found my niche among my 3,000-plus sisters. Whose stories are each as unique as my own. Hail Nyx!
Megan Boyle is a first-year member of the Krewe of Nyx.
I remember the day I received the email inviting me join Nyx in June 2017. As I scanned my personal gmail account box on my phone casually over my Lean Cuisine lunch, I literally screamed out loud.
I wanted to join the krewe for some time. When I moved back to NOLA in 2014 I became fascinated by the all women krewe on Wednesday night. A woman who worked at my organization was a member and I cozied up to her every chance I got at those staff potlucks. I wanted to know more about the krewe, what it was like, and more importantly how I could join.
As a non-native without familiar ties to New Orleans society I doubted that I could ever join a krewe. A woman at my job gave me hope. She explained that while her family were locals they did not have any ties that could get her a spot on a krewe nor the wealth to participate in a traditional female role as a maid, princess, or queen. I joined the Ladies-in-Waiting list right away and updated my application every year encouraging friends and family to do the same.
Receiving the invitation was like Saints winning the Superbowl, Fat Tuesday without rain, Christmas morning Nintendo, and catching your first Zulu coconut all wrapped into one. I danced around the office and told anyone who would listen. Since I’m a librarian, this exuberance was a bit out of place but I didn’t care. I was going to ride in Mardi Gras.
In August I got a text from my little sister, “I got in!” She had received an invitation to join Nyx too. By now I’d moved to Georgia and my newly married sister was living in Maryland. I missed her and could not imagine experiencing this with anyone else. We spent both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays gluing, glittering, and beading purses. Her husband and our father groaned every time we grabbed our purses and Mom and made a run to the craft store for more pink feathers (coupons in hand).
Everything came together quickly after the new year rolled in. We flew into town for the Ball and had a magical time. Our friends in the city picked up some recycled beads for us at ARC [my sister had volunteered there when escorting an Alternative Spring Break group of college students]. Our float lieutenant responded cheerfully to all our annoying, rambling, and confused emails. She picked up our costumes and generally made us feel at home. [Bless you Laura Russell Hill]. Our float Facebook group gave us an opportunity to make connections with the other ladies from afar [The lovely ladies of float #9].
Thank goodness for my Army veteran brother-in-law who with ingenuity and strength managed to get all our beads (recycled and new), trinkets, buckets, baskets, and doo-dads on the float in our positions secured and covered with a tarp. He even picked up our ice and Subway sandwiches in the morning before lock-in despite his tiredness and blood-shot eyes.
Parade day and I was nervous. Forecast was for rainy and chilly weather and definitely disastrous for my multiple sclerosis (MS). Most of the time my symptoms are invisible but, stress (15 family members in NOLA to see us ride), exhaustion (hello Pat O’s at 3am!), and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures could send me barreling toward a full exacerbation. As we ambled toward the floats in the mud, I spotted a rider using a walker. All the ladies helped her along without creating a spectacle or causing a fuss and the tractor driver hoisted her onto the float calmly. I’ve had MS for almost a decade and given the unpredictability of the disease I wondered how my Nyx sisters would respond if I became ill on the ride. Now I knew. The sisterhood was strong and I could be assured that I’d be taken care of if I needed help. Still in my head I counted the pairs of extra socks and hand warmers I had in my parade purse.
After sitting on our Home Depot buckets, rain soaked and freezing, the float made that faithful turn onto Jefferson Avenue. As I jumped up excitedly I felt a spasm cripple my left leg. Unable to balance all my weight on my right leg, I grabbed onto my sister for support. Since my sister and I live apart she has been spared from many of the sudden and debilitating incidents that have come with my diagnosis. Unsure how to respond, she wondered aloud, “should we call Mom?” Mom was on the parade route with friends and family likely with daiquiri in one hand and a mini-muffaletta in the other. No, we would just stand together, me leaning on her for support, until the spasm passed. It passed. We threw out beads, trinkets, and purses to the parade-goers who braved the weather to see us roll. It was a glorious time and we were hooked. Hail Nyx!
I often say my sister is my rock. She is the one who tells me that I can go on even when all signs point to me giving up. She always believes in me and never leaves me. Our sisterhood has been enhanced by our Nyx bond. Now if we could get Mom off the Ladies-in-Waiting List then our sisterhood would be complete.
The experience to be in the company of so many amazing women has been transformational. Words cannot express my gratitude for the Nyx sisterhood and I know no other excitement like the feeling of parade day. I wake up at night with purse design ideas and I drift back to sleep awash in thoughts of pink glitter and Home Depot buckets.
Ciarra Joyner & Zanada Joyner are sisters, and second and third year members of the Krewe of Nyx. And since the time of this publication, their mother has officially been invited to join the Krewe.
The 2019 season for the Mystic Krewe of Nyx has begun and our Summer Social Meet and Greet is next weekend. The event is one of my favorites. Not only is it a wonderful time to meet new members and reconnect with current ones, it’s a festival of sisterhood. Nyx Sisters come together to share a night of dancing, food, and libations. The positive energy in the room is always palpable and off the charts.
Being a born and raised New Orleanian, Mardi Gras is in my blood. I began marching in parades at the age of twelve and continued until I graduated from high school. I would look at those riding on the floats and wonder what it was like up there. When my children graduated from high school, I looked for a carnival krewe to ride in. I wanted a krewe that rode at night and because I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood, it had to be an all-female krewe.
When I researched the Krewe of Nyx and found that their mission was ” to unite women of diverse backgrounds for fun, friendship, and the merriment of the Mardi Gras season,” I knew that I had found my krewe.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx is more than just a carnival krewe and a sisterhood, it’s leading the way in terms of diversity and inclusivity with a significant number of women of all races and backgrounds riding. Since becoming a member, I have many friends from all walks of life that I am proud to call my sisters.
This season is sure to be a great one and I can’t wait to attend krewe events. The many functions for Nyx Sisters and their families to gather and celebrate our 8th year as a Mardi Gras krewe will definitely create memories that will last a lifetime.
The Mystic Krewe of Nyx motto is, “Friends come and go, but a sister is forever.”
When I finally arrived at Gallier Hall for that pinnacle moment of toasting city officials on my night reigning as Goddess Nyx VII, a massive down pour sent spectators scurrying for cover. But Councilman Jason Williams braved the onslaught and was there to greet me in all my wet, melted glory. He remarked, somewhat in awe, at the state of my dress (or undress), “Goddess Nyx VII, I can’t believe it. You must be the toughest Goddess ever! It’s freezing and raining and you have no umbrella, no coat and no rain poncho. Wow, you are tough!” It was something to that affect anyway, and I warmed on the spot.
You see, at that point my feet felt like they were frozen in blocks of ice, my carefully applied makeup was streaming down my face, my gown was a besotted mess and my hair looked like it had just poured out of a blender! I was afraid that my appearance alone would send people scurrying! But to hear that I was ‘tough’- well that was affirmation!
I raised my gloveless, frigid fingers into the air, made big fists and shouted YAY! Yes, a Goddess should be tough, cause this kind of stuff isn’t for the feint of heart! And after all, it was toughness that forged Nyx in the first place -the pure grit and determination of Captain Julie Lea that got the Krewe rolling against all odds and then pushed the envelope even further by making Nyx the biggest in all of Mardi Gras! Pretty tough stuff- I was in good company!
So many people have asked me how I got to be Goddess Nyx VII, and well, I’ve got to say it was just a whim at first. My husband had just chucked in a lucrative Engineering Career to become a State Policeman. He got his mid-life crisis thing going on and well, I wanted mine! He couldn’t exactly argue with me. So I answered the email seeking Goddess candidates and signed up.
Later, I had an interview with the board and I fell under their spell immediately. What an incredible group of ladies-so varied, so talented, so committed, but most of all, so welcoming. I didn’t know any of them prior to that night, but they made me feel like a Goddess from the minute I sat down. I told them if you don’t pick me for Goddess, no worries- I just want to be involved. I want to jump in and be a part of it all. I want what you have-that camaraderie and the sheer bond that comes from toiling for hours together forging something bigger than you. What I didn’t realize was that I was already getting dosed with Nyx magic simply by being a member. I had met ladies I never would have met in my world outside of Nyx. They come from all walks of life, shapes, sizes, colors, socio-economic backgrounds and some with experiences I have only read about. I have met some of the sweetest, kindest and craziest Sisters ever! That never would have happened without Nyx. They make Nyx magic. Being Goddess has meant that I’ve been afforded a little more of that magic.
I’ve continued to meet more and more amazing Nyx Sisters- finding common interests and experiencing uncommonly good fun! I have a few more months to reign and I’m going to keep soaking it all in. And when I help crown Goddess VIII this fall, I hope she feels that magic too- because I do believe there’s plenty to go around in this Krewe. I’ll be taking mine with me.
Karen Boudrie Greig is reigning Goddess Nyx VII. She is a five year member of the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.
In the Spring of 2012 I made a life changing decision when I decided to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx. I really wanted to be a part of a women’s krewe and had watched the very first Nyx parade roll in 2012 in the pouring rain. As my first months passed I attended any event that I could to meet people. The Krewe’s signature throw was a decorated purse and I was very intimidated by the thought of having to do these. I attended my first purse decorating party in October with absolutely no clue of what I was getting involved in. The thought of glittering a purse frightened me but I knew I needed to do it. During that party, as the group chatted away, the idea of having a way to track where our purses went was born. I walked away from that event with my very first decorated purse and went home. It was after that event that I sat down one day and created on Facebook a new page called the Nyx Purse Tracker.
It began small and the first year only had a couple hundred followers. The idea was that riders could add a card, label, or tag that asked the recipient to take a photo of themselves with their catch and post it to the Purse Tracker page so that we could see where and to who our creations went to. I remember getting up the morning after the 2013 parade and taking a look at it. Posts were going up. That year we only had a relatively small handful of posts. About 50 people posted their photos on the page.
The next year I decided to start posting teaser photos of purses prior to the parade. This was a fun way to feature some of our creations and get interest from the public to attend the parade. That year I did a purse countdown to the parade and posted a new photo each day for the 50 days prior to the parade. I have always been very stringent on my self-imposed rules on posting photos. Photos had to be unique to the page and not have been posted previously. So if a rider posted a photo to the page themselves I would not repost that as a feature photo. I was careful to seek permission from the creator to post their photos. Some riders gave me carte blanche permission to use any photo they had. I love those riders! It makes the job so much easier. Gathering photos for a countdown is the hardest part. As the 2014 parade approached I was getting messages from all over asking “How can I catch a purse?” So I started telling people to make signs. It was a thrill that year to see Purse Tracker signs on the parade route.
That year we had about 150 people post photos. The excitement was also building with the riders who search Nyx Purse Tracker trying to catch a post of one of their creations. The whole idea is completely voluntary on both ends so there is no requirement to put a card on a purse and of course there is no way to ensure that even if there is a card on your purse that the recipient will post a photo. But after that 2nd year the site was off and running. It was growing practically by the minute. Interaction between riders and followers grew as more and more teaser photos were posted. By 2015 the followers had grown to almost 2000 and instead of a 50 day countdown I did a 100 day countdown. I learned along the way that posts that I made at 6 am had more impact than one posted later in the day. Based on that information I began scheduling posts to hit early in the morning to have the most reach possible. I have connected with people from all over the world through Nyx Purse Tracker and photos have been posted from many different countries. We even had one recipient take her purse along with her on her travels. We never knew where the traveling purse was going next and it was fun to find out when she posted a photo.
I also met a number of people through Nyx Purse Tracker. Two really stand out for me. One was a lady that reached out asking how could she catch a purse. I of course told her to make a sign. We conversed back and forth a bit on what that sign should say. I finally told her to put “Jackie From Maryland” on the sign so I would know who she was. As we rolled down Napoleon there she was with her sign exclaiming who she was and I managed to throw her the bag I had prepared for her. After the parade she posted her picture and we continued to converse and became friends on Facebook.
The 2nd person that stands out that connected with me is a lady who posted a photo. As we rolled down Magazine Street a man came up to me begging for a purse for his wife. You KNOW that story. I laughed and said “You really have a wife? Where is your wife?” He pointed back to a lady in the crowd who was waving away. I gave him that purse! Later Pamela posted a photo and we also connected and became friends. I had never met them in person. One lived in Maryland and one in Michigan.
This past year both of those ladies rode a couple spots away from me in their first Nyx parade as my Nyx sisters. So the bottom line is that Purse Tracker now has over 5700 followers and is growing every day. It has become a place for people to connect all over the love of Nyx and catching purses. It has even helped get a rider’s actual personal purse that she accidentally threw off the float back to her when the person who caught it posted asking for help in returning it.
This past year we had hundreds of photos posted from all over the world. Seeing a creation you made in the hands of its new owner and loved as much as we loved them provides a feeling like no other. We would love to have thousands of photos posted next year. Please follow along on our purse journey by liking our page. https://www.facebook.com/NyxPurseTracker/
Del Hamilton is a seven year member of the Krewe of Nyx. She is also a Float Lieutenant and assists the krewe with its preservation of archives. Additionally, she is a connoisseur of purse decorating! Watch her making some beautiful Nyx purses for the 2018 parade .